From the moment we set up our tents on the first day, to packing our bags on the last, the Presidential Award – Silver Level – was an experience like no other.
It provided an opportunity for making new friends, trying new things, and getting to know people on a deeper level. For four glorious days, we were united.
We arrived at our campsite in the mercilessly scorching sun. After a few moments of regaining our composure and drinking water like we never had before, we pitched our tents and set up for the night. Later in the evening, once we were all settled and, in our pyjamas, the instructors very patiently explained to us how to read the map and use the compass. For me, this exercise was futile: I still don’t know where the north is.
After a restless night – canvas tents trap a lot of heat – came an exciting morning.
With hiking boots on, we set out to climb Kiambichu Hill, which seemed like an impossible feat from where we stood. Half an hour in, it seemed like we would never make it: it was a war between us and the unrelenting sun.
Eventually – after six hours of melting in the unbearable heat, getting lost, and reapplying sunscreen – we stumbled back into camp, nursing injuries and sunburns. The tiring day spilt into an eventful night of singing, rudely interrupted by the rain, which ended in deep, tired, dreamless sleep.
The nefarious rain returned to wake us the next day. A gentle drizzle characterised our walk down to the river, where we were briefed about our next adventure: rafting. The mention of the possibility of crocodiles and hippos in the Tana River left many of us apprehensive but excited nonetheless. The water was refreshing as the day grew warmer and brighter, and we settled into a gentle glide down the river. Later on, we went down more tumultuous sections of the river that left us soaked and energised.
That afternoon we were free to roam the campsite and enjoy the beautiful scenery: a mellow river, vibrant green trees and grass, and a picturesque sky. This was a time for forming new friendships and cementing the ones we already had. The calm atmosphere put many to sleep and left others drifting around lethargic. The day was crowned with another animated night of fun and minimal sleep.
Our last day was no less enjoyable than the others. We spent the morning and early afternoon ziplining, doing archery, playing cards, and generally having a good time. The trip was over too soon, and many of us would have gladly stayed for another week. This experience was like no other, and there are no words to describe how united we felt.
Even though there were moments of quarrels and misunderstandings, disputes, and arguments, they cannot compare to the enjoyable, entertaining, and exhilarating ones. These people—this cohort of mischief-makers—are the ones who made this trip unforgettable, and I look forward to us going for Gold.
*Originally written by Fridah Owegi and edited/published by Vanessa Raychael